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Myanmar Travel Tips
Country & Population
Myanmar or Burma as it was known until 1988, has been one of the least
accessible countries in the world up until very recently. The fact that
the country has been inaccessible for so long has meant that Myanmar has
been relatively untainted by the excesses of modern life and retains an
aura of a bygone age. As a destination Myanmar offers great natural
beauty, magnificent archaeological sites, stunning pagoda and temple
architecture and warm, hospitable people
Myanmar is the largest country in the South East Asian peninsula
stretching 2000km from north to south and over 900km from east to west
and covering the area of Great Britain and France combined. Three
quarters of Myanmar is covered by mountains and jungle and there are no
less than 135 ethnic groups living in the country. Flat plains and wide
rivers characterize the geography of the centre of the country while
mountain ranges run along the Thai border up to the Himalayas in the
east. The southern coast of the country borders the Bay of Bengal and
the Andaman Sea. Myanmar's main river is the 2000km long Ayeyarwady
River, formerly known as the Irrawaddy, around which most of the
country's best farmland is found
Passport & Visa
All visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Myanmar. A
28-day tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. Visas can
be obtained at any of Myanmar's embassies and consulates overseas. Tour
operators should preferably apply for a EV/T Package Tour Visa for
clients to avoid clients having to make the compulsory change of USD 300
into FEC on arrival at Yangon Airport. For visitors from countries which
do not have Myanmar embassies or consulates a visa can be issued on
arrival by ASEAN Travel & Tours. Detailed passport information must be
submitted to ASEAN Travel & Tours at least two weeks prior to clients
departure in these cases.
The currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced 'chat'). As in most
countries of the world US Dollars are the most useful currency to carry
and can be exchanged easily. Banks are open Monday to Friday between
10:00 and 14:00. Travellers cheques can be exchanged only in the major
cities. Credit cards such as Visa Card, Mastercard, AMEX and Diners Club
are now accepted at some of the larger hotels in Yangon.
Myanmar has three seasons similar to many other parts of Southeast Asia.
The Southwest monsoon starts at the end of May or beginning of June and
lasts until the end of October. This season brings frequent and heavy
downpours of rain, mainly in the afternoon and evening. All this rain
makes the weather very humid and this can make travel quite unpleasant.
The rains give way to dry weather in November and the temperatures are
generally lower and more pleasant at this time. A second monsoon passes
the south east of the country in December and January resulting in lower
cool breezes throughout Myanmar. In February the temperatures start to
climb again leading up to the next rainy season at the end of May.
Temperatures between March and May can be very hot reaching over 40oC
in many places.
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming
from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be
inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio.
Malaria is present in Myanmar and it is advisable to take precautions
especially if travelling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are
rather limited in Myanmar and it is essential to take out a good medical
insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed.
The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which there are over 80
different dialects spoken. The written language uses an amazing looking
script based on ancient Indian characters. In the cities many of the
older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming
popular again with the younger generation.
January 4: Independence Day
February 12: Union Day
Mar 2: Farmer's Day
Mar 10: Dry Season Festival
Mar 27: Armed Forces Day
April: Water Festival (moveable)
May 1: International Labor Day
July: Waso (moveable)
November 11: National Day
December 25: Christmas Day
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in a
country where the average annual income is only around US$ 300. It is
customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the
end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.
An international airport tax of US$ 10 per person is payable when
departing Myanmar on an international flight. Departure tax is not
charged on domestic flights.
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:30 until 16:00.